In Which Scones Warm Up a Cold Afternoon…


We here in Manila are currently experiencing the coldest weather in recent memory.  With all-time lows dipping to 20° – 22°C, we’ve been having frosty breezes and overcast skies.  (The weather is, of course, much colder in Baguio up north and Tagaytay in the south where the temp dips to 10°C at night!)  It is, as my late grandmother used to say, arroz caldo (Spanish-style rice porridge with chicken) weather.  Soup and stew weather.  Bake-every-cake-in-Nigella’s-book weather.  Scone weather.

I’ve always been fascinated by scones.  Growing up, the Enid Blyton school-stories I collected always had something to say about scones and butter for the girls’ tea.  I used to think these were like pan de sal, small yeast buns that were meant to be eaten with butter and fruit spreads.  I later found out that they were more like American biscuits: baking-powder-raised cakelets that, yes, were meant to be eaten with butter, jam, and – in cases of pure, glorious gluttony – clotted cream.

Now, I’ve tried baking biscuits just once (I used Lori Baltazar’s recipe.), and these turned out pretty well.  However, I wasn’t too happy with the results and put off baking treats of the sort for quite a while.  Thanks to an article by Jane Hornby in BBC Good Food, however, I decided to try again.  I should, however, immediately state at this point that these scones weren’t done to Ms. Hornby’s recipe (I didn’t have any yogurt in the fridge.).  Instead, these were pretty much a spin-off on Nigella Lawson‘s strawberry shortcake base.  However, I gave it a bit of a tweak and the results were none too sweet, just properly cakey but sturdy enough to withstand both generous lashings of butter, cream, or – as we’re mad enough to do at our house – mascarpone and softened Brie.  Plus, unlike most scones which are best hot, these are also excellent when cold.

Stay-at-Home Scones

  • 325 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup salted margarine
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 125 mL all-purpose cream
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Pre-heat oven to 450°C / Gas Mark 7.  Lightly grease a standard-sized cookie sheet; set aside.

Sift together the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugars and mix till well-incorporated.  Cut in the butter and margarine until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  Whisk the egg into the cream.  Pour the eggy cream into the flour mix a little at the time, mixing each addition with a fork.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a bit until cohesive.  Press down to a thickness of a little over an inch.  Dip the rim of a drinking glass into some flour and cut out about six circles.  Put the circles on the cookie sheet and press together the remaining dough scraps.  Cut out an additional six circles and place on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 10 – 13 minutes or till golden brown.  Remove from the sheet and cool on a rack.  Serve warm with butter, jam, clotted cream, or cream cheese.

Makes 12 scones – oh, and don’t forget a hot, milky mug of tea or some rich hot chocolate to dunk these babies in.